Monday, May 31, 2010

Nationalism, European disintegration and Muslim Unity

The European Union-once coveted by European elites as a rival to America's global hegemony is fast teetering on the abyss of disintegration. Three recent events have fused to unleash irrepressible nationalistic forces that have hurtled the Union towards this earth-shattering moment of truth.

Europe's failure to fashion a durable response to the volcanic ash crisis that temporarily grounded airplanes across the continent, exposed deep fissures amongst European countries, as national governments forsook EU directives and grappled to save their cash starved airline carriers.

Equally callous was Europe's dithering reaction towards the bailing out of Greece and saving the Euro. By the time Europe's leaders mustered enough strength to surmount public anger and put together an aid package for Greece, the money markets assisted by the American vultures (hedge funds and Credit rating agencies) preyed on weak PIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain). Portugal and Spain now draw the ire of speculators. But this was not the end of the crisis or the bottoming out as some pundits had hoped for. As if this was not bad enough, Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor reeling from a vicious setback in regional elections, took the unusual step of proscribing short-selling which in turn exacerbated Europe's predicament. The unilateralist move astounded the rest of Europe and revealed the deep nationalistic divisions that are rapidly contributing to the erosion of power at heart of the European Union.

This was clearly evident at a hastily arranged press conference, where the obscure European President Herman Van Rompuy papered over the schisms that pervade much of the continent and instead pledged unity. The support for the union by Europe's elite is oddly placed with the widespread sentiments expressed by their people. Yet at this juncture there are vital lessons to be learnt by both Europeans and Muslims.

The European Union-a behemoth of an experiment in social and economic engineering is a monumental failure and will soon succumb to its ultimate fate. The nation state triumphs over the union, a fait accompli in the vocabulary of the European populace. The EU experiment was a bold attempt by some European nations to put to rest centuries of division and warfare. But after 40 years of trying to create a post modern state, the EU has disintegrated into a collection of pre-modern states (nation states), where powerful states like England, France and Germany are at loggerheads over Europe's future. This was a predictable outcome.

The European continent has been plagued with cultural differences, religious schisms and intense rivalries between powerful states. European history clearly demonstrates that there is very little to unite Europeans except foreign threats. In the 17th century the advance of the Ottoman army to the gates of Vienna briefly spurred European nations to put aside their differences, only to be resumed later. In the 20th century, the threats from the Soviet Union, and later from America's global hegemony forced Europe to coalesce in the form of a union. More often than not, the coming together of European nations is a temporary affair and is used by some to recuperate after experiencing the ravages of war. But as soon as the external threat weakens, in this case America's position in the world, Europe defaults to a state of disunity.

In contrast, nationalism which is destroying the social fabric of the European Union is receding in much of the Muslim world. Today the concept of ummah has superseded nationalism and has become a unifying force for Muslims across the world. Muslims from Morocco to Indonesia are quickly discovering that they have more in common with the Islamic vision of brotherhood than their present identities defined by artificial borders. The plight of Muslims in Palestine, Chechnya, Kashmir, Iraq and Afghanistan is no longer viewed as parochial problems, but as Islamic problems that must have an Islamic solution.

Furthermore, the present day nation states in the Islamic world are alien to Muslims. They do not have any precedence in Islamic history nor are they a product of Islamic jurisprudence. The nation state was forced upon the Muslims by western powers to prevent the re-establishment of the Caliphate. As such, the Muslim masses never really expressed their loyalty to these artificial states and had to be governed by tyranny. Now it's just a matter of time before these regimes of terror are toppled and a global Caliphate is established on their ruins.

The rulers of the Muslim world are not blind to these realities; rather they are opposed to them. These rulers continuously preach that Muslims can never be united and that the establishment of the Caliphate belongs to the realm of the past.

Paradoxically, the nation-states that were manufactured to erase the political unity of Muslims have become the vehicles of change. Their weakness has encouraged Muslims worldwide to discard Europe and America as model states, and to redouble their efforts to re-establish the Caliphate

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